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Topic: Best Zombie Ball Available
Message: Posted by: Paul Rathbun (Feb 8, 2014 10:05AM)
Now that Morrissey is no longer in production, who do you think makes the best zombie ball available?

I think in my search for one, I am am looking for one that is slightly larger than a standard size. That makes my search that much harder to find exactly what I am looking for. If any of you know of a good resource for zombies please let me know. Thanks.

Message: Posted by: John Martin (Feb 8, 2014 12:32PM)
Morrisey's products are still available. http://spectram.com/vas/products.php?category_id=0&manf=11

Message: Posted by: Paul Rathbun (Feb 8, 2014 01:51PM)

You are right, I did find that the Morrissey still can be found if you look around, but I also found some comments here on the Café saying they are not the best quality. It sounds like the one at Viking magic that is imported from Europe is the best quality for the money.
Message: Posted by: Bill Hegbli (Feb 8, 2014 01:55PM)
No Rings and Things 2 is the best quality for the money. They are expensive, but worth it if you take pride in your props.

General Grant had Morrissey make him his Zombies to his specifications, you can contact him to see if he has any left. He had some special sizes. He also has the be 2 finger gimmick ever made, and a nice dragon foulard. He only can be emailed and only takes mail orders. Not internet payments or charge cards. He can email you his price list.
Message: Posted by: Paul Rathbun (Feb 9, 2014 06:24AM)

Do you happen to know what his current email address is?
Message: Posted by: makeupguy (Feb 9, 2014 08:19AM)
The one from Viking is the best for the money. Hands down. Rings N Things is also very very good, but for the money, I'd go with the Viking one.

Morrisey's zombie has NEVER been good, the seam is obvious, it's not polished like it used to be, and, sorry Bill, but why would you EVER want to use a dragon foulard? Unless you're doing a retro act from the 60's and 70's? It seems as if so many magicians still are.. but by accident.
Message: Posted by: Jef Eaton (Feb 9, 2014 05:56PM)
FAB Magic has some kind of zombie that is unbreakable and comes in a larger size than most. I haven't seen it, but it might be worth a try.
Message: Posted by: Paul Rathbun (Feb 9, 2014 08:07PM)

I do like the options they offer for sizes over at FAB magic but wonder about the quality. Does anyone out there own the FAB version that can give a review about the quality?
Message: Posted by: makeupguy (Feb 10, 2014 10:30PM)
Any unbreakable zombie is probably plastic.. and plastic looks exactly like what it is.. plastic.

Even chromed or vacuum metalized plastic looks like plastic.

in the long run.. a good, well polished ball will be the best.. and like I said.. Viking makes the best ball for the price on the market now.

If you buy a low priced sub standard zombie.. you'll get exactly what you paid for.... and believe it or not... audience know.
Message: Posted by: Rick Fisher (Feb 11, 2014 08:04PM)
Beg to differ - our 'plastic' zombies look as good if not better than the metal ones - the seam runs vertically so it can't be seen by the audience and I disagree the audience does not know if it is metal or plastic - like any other prop its the way you handle it that 'sells' - not what it is made of. Look at our reviews - we just recently sold our 4,000th unit - guess they must be fooling somebody :)
Message: Posted by: SpellbinderEntertainment (Feb 11, 2014 10:01PM)
I’ve seen, handled, used, just about every variation and aberration of “zombie” floating balls for the last 40 years. As anyone who knows me will tell you, I’m an obsessed, addicted, infatuated, passionate, compulsive, and over the top, floating Ball fanatic.

Of metal styles, I’ve seen the wretched (Morrissey among those) and the divine, (No longer made Karson/Abbotts, and R&T, Owen Supreme.)

I’d get the Viking while you can. The lovely balls from Italy are the best under $50 option since Abbotts stopped making the genuine Karson balls.

In the ideal balls the hemispheres should not be identical and I’ve not seen the proper weight distribution in plastic. Plastic has a different sheen and reflection. Plastic makes an odd hollow plastically sound. Plastic has a different density/weight from aluminum. I can spot a plastic ball from the second balcony.

Though the nubby gray plastic Vernet must take the ugly and wrong weight prize. What is FAR worse than any plastic ball is trying to skate by with a plastic holiday ornament. They don’t cut it for anyone over twelve who wants to be perceived as a quality or pro magician.

Morrissey sold an astronomical number of their balls and that did not make them correct or quality, it was just a number’s game. I spoke with Herb once and he said “Why should I make them right when I can sell these.” Even Herb knew that hundreds sold did not translate to made right.

In my (not humble at all on this topic) opinion Mr. Mosher is spot on. If in the next 40 years I’m EVER presented with a plastic ball that I feel can stand head-to-head with a metal ball I’ll gladly print a retraction and even endorse it as a viable alternative.

Magically, Walt
Message: Posted by: SpellbinderEntertainment (Feb 11, 2014 10:20PM)
ADDENDUM to above post:

This is an actual Zombie testimonial:
“So easy to perform a 7 year old can do it - and so can YOU!”…Thank you your product is perfect for a 7 year old.”

I could not believe I read this. You can buy a Stradivarius violin for a seven year old, and he’ll be able to take bow to strings and make screechy painful noise. In a few years with concentration and passion he might make good music. With dedication when he’s thirty maybe perform in a world class symphony.

It is the same with zombie, some kid can toss a scarf over a ball and poke it around the air, but that is not “performing” a floating ball. It is certainly far from MAGIC.

After decades of working with this effect I’m still refining and growing. I did not put it into my public act until I’d worked on it for almost 15 years. That’s the level of respect I have for this piece.

Zombie can be one of the most banal and obvious effects in magic, or a purely stunning celestial miracle. To believe a child can do it justice is incomprehensible to me. Neil Foster must be spinning in his grave!

My two-cents (again)
Message: Posted by: Jeffrey Korst (Feb 12, 2014 12:34AM)
If the Italian balls that Viking sells are the best for under $50, what do you think is the best ball out there regardless of price?
Message: Posted by: SpellbinderEntertainment (Feb 12, 2014 01:38AM)
Hi Jeffery! Here’s your answer. You do really good Zombie work and you deserve the best tools to work with.

I’m talking about only the balls here. None of the gimmicks are impressive, standard-to-okay. Get your gimmicks from Jim Sommers (via Klamm Magic) or General Grant. Don’t get a commercial foulard either, get the right weight of silk fabric, double it, and have it made. The original double-weight Rice Dragon Silks are perfect… but only if you have an act were a dragon theme is relevant of meaningful. Skip the bases, they are of little or no use.

From what’s out there at this point in time, I really love the George’s Viking ball, it’s the closest I’ve seen to the original Abbotts/Karson balls. It’s made right, well balanced, it has a great finish, you’d almost think it was an Abbotts from the Neil Foster era. ($45)

Neck and neck is the Owen Magic Supreme. They have an inner circle or “core” that connects the two halves rather than a flange. This makes for a very tight seam and a very round ball. Maybe a tad heavier than Viking, but very durable. The polish is extraordinarily mirror like. (approximately $125 last I checked.) They also have a very large (heavy) six inch for more money. Don’t get the satin finish or anodized colors they are not good at all.

Rings & Things II is nice too. Donnie’s are machined exactly like the original Rings & Things. The balance is perfect. There is a curve into the gimmick recess which I’ve never understood. Donnie takes a lot of care with these and is deservedly proud of them. (They top the scale at $160) I don’t care for the satin finish here either.

Next we have the sloppy Morrissey balls, basically two halves jammed together without the flange, slightly egg shape, poor polishing job, poor balance. Yeah, they’ve sold thousands, but so what. Do big sales make a Whopper better than prime rib? (Were about $35)

Then we have the balls from India, about the level of Morrissey, maybe a tad better, but the spinning is not smooth and dent easily. ($20 - $35)

I won’t go into the plastic balls for the many reasons stated above, I researched one of the more popular and found a lot of pro-and-con reviews, so I’m not the only skeptic. As I said above the ugly prize goes to Vernet, it’s gray/silver and bumpy all over with a visible seam and weighs a lot.

There are “fad” balls that look like fishbowls or cages or soccer balls, or crystals, and god knows what else, I’d avoid these like the plague, they are a splash in the ocean, not really any improvements, and end up in bottom drawers and closets.

The “Miracle Ball” of my childhood and still around is Styrofoam, it looks like what it is, and catches on the cloth with too much friction. A ball that does not look solid and hefty defeats much of the purpose of the illusions. The original concept is that the ball was quite heavy (like a large ball bearing) and that make it more spectacular when it defied gravity and moved on it’s own. If the ball is perceived as light then half the impact is gone.

The Ball is a TOOL, it’s what the craftsman does with his tools, but a skilled craftsman who wants a good reputation and job referrals uses the best quality tools he can lay his hands on. Same here, get a good ball then learn HOW to use it properly. 95% of the routines I see are weak, haphazard, too long, done without skill or care, and are not deceptive or enchanting.

I have all the above balls. I use my old Abbotts most (why did they stop making then and carry low quality ones?) I love my Viking and enjoy working with it a lot. As a collector I do treasrue my Owen because of the “Tiffany” quality, just like I love their Linking Rings. And the R&T II is right up there, it’s beautiful and I’d use it more if it were not for the inward curve.

So this has turned into “Part Three” of my floating ball post, I’d read them in order if you have an interest. Or use the “search” and you’ll find almost ten years of my advice and rants on this effect. Or get my book there’s a whole chapter on this topic.

Magically, Walt
Message: Posted by: Rick Fisher (Feb 12, 2014 11:01AM)
That testimonial came from one of our customers - the 7 year old who is still performing this effect to this day - couldn't have performed this effect with any other ball because of the weight. He now has a nice zombie that is easy for him to use and enjoys practicing it every day according to his parents. So believe it ... its a nice ball and perhaps you ought to try it before making irrelevant remarks.

We all have opinions but if you have never used one how can you make judgement? Must be magic
Message: Posted by: George Ledo (Feb 12, 2014 11:23AM)
There's a fact that we often seem to ignore, and I frequently have to remind theater producers (especially the smaller local groups) about it.

Audiences do notice things. They are not dumb.

Over the past two weeks I've had this discussion with the builders on a production of "Spamalot," i.e.:

"Do you think the audience will notice that the top of the castle isn't such-and-such?" "Do you think the audience will notice the chandelier isn't medieval?"

Yes and yes. The people who spend $20 and up to go see a live theatre production -- even in community theater -- are the same ones who spend more or less $10 to go see a movie. And they are the same ones who watch TV. They are used to seeing professionally-done sets, lights, costumes, props, and so forth. I'm not talking storylines or acting here; that's a whole separate conversation. When they go to a live theater production where the producers have taken it upon themselves to believe and act like the audiences won't notice things (mostly because they're too lazy to do it right), they are just reinforcing the audience's assumption that live theater is "amateur hour." Which is why so many small live theater companies struggle to survive.

If the audiences are so dumb they won't notice things, then why do the actors have to memorize lines? Hey, they won't notice if the guy is carrying a script, right?

Audiences don't go to the movies to "support" the stars; they go to enjoy the experience, the story, and, yes, sometimes their favorite stars. But, in live theater, the idea of "supporting your local community theater" is very often used. That just tells me that the groups expect people to go see a show in spite of the fact that it's poorly done.

There have been gads of discussions here as to why magic has such a low esteem from the general public. Given my experience in live theater, I have to believe that the reason for magic having such a low esteem is that people who perform magic generally meet the audience's expectations of an amateurish presentation. And even if they do present something professional, they often still have a hard time selling it bacause of the public's assumptions.

So what's the solution? I don't know what the solution is in magic, but the one I give smaller theater groups every single time is to mount productions that they can afford to do extremely well, and to exceed the audience's expectations. IOW, don't do Gilbert and Sullivan if you can't find the proper voices, don't do Shakespeare if you can't find a director and actors who understand Shakespeare, and don't do "Show Boat" or "Mame" if you can't afford the sets and costumes. Find other plays and musicals -- there are lots out there that can provide the audience with a moving, memorable experience of live theater -- and totally exceed their expectations.
Message: Posted by: Inviso (Feb 12, 2014 12:11PM)
SpellbinderEntertainmnet wrote:
"A ball that does not look solid and hefty defeats much of the purpose of the illusions. The original concept is that the ball was quite heavy (like a large ball bearing) and that make it more spectacular when it defied gravity and moved on it’s own. If the ball is perceived as light then half the impact is gone."

Walt, great information, obviously from your experience.
I've heard the above comment before and am curious if that is truly how an audience sees this. With such a collection of Zombie balls I imagine you have performed with them once or twice. Have you, or have you heard of anyone, asking the audience perception of what they have just seen?
I'm sure none have seen a 6" ball bearing but they have seen large, light glass Christmas ornaments. Some may correctly perceive it as lighter than we imagine we want them to. Some may not really care how heavy it is supposed to appear and simply enjoy a floating ball.
Would a Zombie bowling ball (perhaps after bowling ball from briefcase) not be more impressive?

Not trying to start any sort of argument here just to trying to understand the psychology a little more. Should one make more effort to prove that the ball is heavy?
I do want to include a Zombie in my act but I have magicians guilt on this that it isn't nearly as impressive as I want to believe it is.

Message: Posted by: SpellbinderEntertainment (Feb 12, 2014 01:01PM)
Hi Randy,
You’re certainly on the right track!

There’s a magician who takes a bowling ball our of it’s bowling bag (and maybe even uses a gym towel for the cloth, can’t recall) and he’s makes a huge audience impact. Impressive YES you’re right. (it’s not something for others to copy of course as it’s his creation.)

A large heavy ball is one of the least “odd’ objects in most magic shows, ubiquitous garish boxes and tubes are far more suspicious I think. Maybe even make it look like an old cannon ball?

It’s not what the prop is or looks like, it’s good acting, and strong mime that sells the heavy weight (look at what Raymond Crowe does with zombie mime.)

It’s logical that a light ornament or mylar balloon could float, and that’s okay magic if done well. But, if it’s a five or ten pound object just think how impossible the magic seems now! It ups the mystery factor and helps steer the audience away from method if the ball has weight.

I think there should be a ton of “magician’s guilt” when you start to take your floating ball work seriously. There’s a lot of reason for audience apathy and guilt if you watch it on YouTube. The solution is to make it magical and believe your magic. That ingredient is skill and mastery and imagination. This effect takes as much work as an elegant well done Cups & Balls, Card or Card Manipulation, or Billiard Balls… and you know how much work those are!

As I said I’ve experimented untold hours with this effect, seemingly light and heavy, and I’ve found from experience and feedback that in my context heavy is more mindboggling.

The “go to” resources in order for mastering the Floating Ball are:
1) Al Schneider on Zombie (book not video! You can download it)
2) Jeb Sherrill’s Zombie DVD Set (!!!!!)
3) Losander’s / Tommy Wonder video
4) Tim Wright’s Zombie video
And I’d work using all four of those.

You’ll not only be non-guiltless, but extremely proud with this becomes the finale to your show because the audience is in awe, gasps, applauds, and talks about it after the show. It can be a “toy” or a literal showstopper.

Magically, Walt
Message: Posted by: SpellbinderEntertainment (Feb 12, 2014 01:35PM)
Part #2 of 2-12-14 post:

Hi Rick,
I’m opposed to plastic looking balls in general, and un-mastered performances specifically, hence all my examples above.

Very true, I have not worked with your particular ball. I’d love to …and have to eat my words about your particular plastic version. I have seen lots photos, I have talked to floating ball aficionados about the pros-and-cons they’ve found. I’ve read the good and also critical reviews. I’m familiar with your hook-up and construction details. There are some cool things you’ve covered. However, to me the ball still appears to be a plastic lightweight ball that audiences might assume to be a holiday ornament. Even if I did not know the material my first guess would be that.

It’s great a 7 year old works on a hard effect and gets better. I was working on magic at that age. But, I did not have the maturity to carry it off in a performance. If the child can become a whiz at a fairly complicated cup & ball routine or a good card manipulation act, THEN he’s ready to perform a deceptive and amazing zombie. The Floating Ball takes the same level of effort and expertise… and is as challenging as those other classic effects. I hope he keeps working on it (for only friends and family) until he has the maturely to do it effectively in public shows.

So I’m not trying to bash you or your product, as you say I’ve not worked with it. I don’t think a plastic alternative can match up with a Viking, Owen, or R&T, which those are quite deceptive when performed with skill.

To magicians: I hope you’ll be inventive, creative. Like the magician who uses a bowling ball. Just because Karson started the whole thing with a silver ball does not mean another finish would not be as effective. So long as the refinished ball is still perfectly round (that’s needed for the method) looks substantial and doesn’t look like a plastic bubble with a plastic goldfish in it
Magically, Walt
Message: Posted by: Snidini (Feb 12, 2014 11:37PM)
Walt, is there an ideal diameter ball for the effect. I understand that 5 1/2 to 6 inch ball is the best to work with. With all the variations of balls and sizes out there, what are your recommendations? Thanks.

Message: Posted by: SpellbinderEntertainment (Feb 12, 2014 11:58PM)
The originals were 4 inch. Masters like Neil Foster preferred the Karson size. It has always been my choice. Why?

While still small, this size ball can be seen on even a large stage. The smaller size appears farther from the ends of the silk, so farther from your hands, this makes it look more isolated in space, thus more deceptive. Your body-to-ball and ball-to-foulard ratio is greater.

The smaller ball is slightly lighter, so it is smoother to manipulate and routine moves with. It also has less of a chance of flashing in around the body or arm moves.

A small ball can be handled as if it weighs about 3 to 5 pounds logically, with a larger ball you have to “mime” heavier weight and it seems less logical that a ball is that more heavy.

If you are really big dude, like 6”5” or 300lbs you may want a larger ball (I’m 6’2” and 190lbs and the small is perfect in relation to my body size.) If you’re a little guy a big ball looks wrong somehow.

As long as they can clearly see the ball you’re going to be fine, and the 4 inch can be seen in a theatre with over 1,000 people. Jeb does prefers a 5 inch, it’s partly what moves, style, and premise you choose.

I use my lovely 6 inch Own Supreme ball very rarely, I think that large a size this big has to move very, very, very, slowly and do almost no moves, just rise-peek-lower once in an about 30 second presentation. I use it as a Ritual Full Moon with an oriental story. A three inch ball is just silly, if you want to use something of that small get Bill Abbott’s “The Thing” it is a powerful variation on Zombie.

Magically, Walt
Message: Posted by: makeupguy (Feb 13, 2014 07:51AM)
I agree with walt on SO many things. Plastic will always look like plastic. however.. that can be alleviated by making it look like something NON-METAL.. you can make it look wooden, you can make it look like stone, you can make it look like almost anything, but for some reason, vacuum metalized plastic never looks like metal.

Even the other finishes are hard and almost never look real without signifcant expense and extra finishing.

My one caveat is that I'd LOVE to see a zombie ball done with a 2" ball... and when the ball is put on the stand at the end.. drop it. Don't point out that you've dropped it with a bad OOPS mime.. just make the mistake, pick it up and continue on. Of course the ball has been switched with a real bearing.
This wouldn't work for everyone, but it would be a nice kicker if not played off as a kicker.
Message: Posted by: Inviso (Feb 13, 2014 09:48AM)
I've been thinking of the same idea. Some sort of mechanism in the table to drop the heavy ball out of the side while the foulard masks the switch. Using a smaller ball as Walt suggests, or much smaller as you suggest, would allow for more switching options without a mechanism to rely on.

Message: Posted by: SpellbinderEntertainment (Feb 13, 2014 10:36AM)
If this were attempted Randy, the ball would have to be the size of a real ball bearing (about 2" as Michael says) for it to play realistically.

I'd ditch the idea of "some sort of mechanism" that complicates an effect whose beauty is in the simplicity of it. With a larger ball it's too much fuss and falderal that can be easily accomplished with mime.

With a ball bearing you can simply do a billiard ball switch, or ditch the real one behind a prop, don't make a big deal of it.

I generally don't like *proofs* in magic the are usually unnecessary as magic is make-believe and they want to believe with you. Also, why run if you're not being chased, as they say.

A ball bearing would be a great size to use with “The Thing” in an intimate setting.

Magically, Walt
Message: Posted by: Inviso (Feb 13, 2014 11:06AM)
Great perspective and advice again, Walt, and bonus points for using "falderal" in a sentence.

Message: Posted by: Motley Mage (Feb 13, 2014 05:03PM)
. . . and with alliteration as well.
Message: Posted by: Wizard of Oz (Feb 13, 2014 09:10PM)
Man, this post could be turned into a book. Great advice from so many pros. Thank you.
Message: Posted by: SpellbinderEntertainment (Feb 13, 2014 10:13PM)
Welll... most of my thoughts ARE in my book... LOL
Message: Posted by: SpellbinderEntertainment (Feb 16, 2014 07:09PM)
In many Floating Ball Threads I’ve highly recommended Al Schneider’s Book (not the video, the book!) for serious workers.

This with Jeb Sherrill’s Zombie DVD Set will (with much effort, practice, imagination, and acting/mime work!) will get you well on the way to performing a miracle and not just a “ball on a st**k”

I’ve found the download on Al’s book and done the search work for you all. Magically, Walt

Al Schneider on Zombie

World Magic Center E-zine Products
$20.00 -1 PDF file sent via email

Message: Posted by: axtell (Mar 5, 2014 08:59PM)
Here's a twist on the zombie.... "The Walking Fred" Zombie http://www.axtell.com/zombie.html
Message: Posted by: Al Schneider (Mar 6, 2014 02:45AM)
Enjoyed this chat of the Zombie ball.
I never knew there was so much to getting a ball.
I have only owned two. One I left in a paper bag in Milt Larson's room at some convention after a party.
I just went to the local magic shop and bought another one. Have no idea what kind it is.
I bent the wire that comes with it and pushed a shoe lace over it.
I think the ball should have some weight as the inertia tells me where the ball is during performance.
This is to let you know my Zombie book is available on amazon dot com.
I am converting all my material to that process.
I can attest to the power of this trick.
A woman in one of my shows ducked behind the chairs because she thought is was alive.
The ball to me is more like a puppet.
To me it is alive.
It is the most difficult trick I have ever attempted.
When I do a show, I close with it both close up and standup.
Al Schneider
Message: Posted by: SpellbinderEntertainment (Mar 7, 2014 03:08PM)
Thank you for checking in Al!
And AMEN it was one of the most difficult to master for me too.
It IS a puppet, or perhaps a "dance partner" on stage.
It is wonderful when a person can truly see it as alive!
HUGE Thanks for keeping your book in print, it is the bible of Zombie animation.
You, of all people, desrve a great ball, with a proper and good weight, get the Viking, treat yourself!
Magically, Walt
Message: Posted by: radamwarner (May 15, 2014 10:14PM)
Does anyone know the history of the Zombie and how it came to be named Zombie?
Message: Posted by: Motley Mage (May 16, 2014 07:14AM)
Invented by Joe Karson in the 1940s; lots of information available if you look for it. Here's one place to find more about Karson: http://mikerosemagic.com/joe-karson-beyond-zombie/ . The name "Zombie" simply comes from the ball being under the magician's power, like a zombie controlled by a voudon (voodoo) master. Following the same spooky naming trend, Karson also invented (among others) the trick named Voodoo, a Dancing Handkerchief illusion that does not require the use of assitants (see here: http://dennymagic.com/store/rare-joe-karson-voodoo-cabinet.html ).
Message: Posted by: Kbuck54 (May 16, 2014 08:58PM)
Dirk Losander used to sell a Zombie with a great curved gimick and the silk was fantastic. I got two. The ball is huge. I love the curved ginick that he uses.
Message: Posted by: radamwarner (May 19, 2014 01:50PM)
Thanks Motley Mage. As you mentioned Voudon, there is a great book which you may know, Divine Horsemen: The Voodoo Gods of Haiti by Maya Deren.
Thanks again for the information.
Message: Posted by: karnak (May 20, 2014 03:59PM)
Based upon everything I've read in this thread, I have decided to upgrade from my old (very old) Morrissey zombie ball by ordering one from Viking. It should be here in a day or two.

Now I need to look into obtaining a good quality foulard. I could have ordered one of the foulards offered by Viking, but wanted to research this a bit more before making any final ordering decisions.

Again going from what I've read in this and other threads, it seems that the optimal size for a Zombie foulard is 30" x 30", and the optimal material is silk. The Viking foulards are evidently made of satin instead of silk, and also run smaller than the generally suggested 30" x 30" size (Viking offers three different styles, which come in three different sizes, but all of which are less than 30" x 30"). So, perhaps I should keep looking.

Of course, I have kept looking, and all I can find online are a handful of similar alternatives whose cheapness suggests they may be of lesser quality (too big, wrong weight, etc.). It seems surprisingly difficult to find a place from which to order a good, pro-quality Zombie foulard. Can anyone recommend any other good sources?

Again going from what I've read here, it also seems like many if not most serious Zombie performers make their own foulards from two or three layers of silk which they sew together themselves. I, however, have zero skills or experience with sewing (I can barely thread a needle). So again, I'm hoping someone can point me toward a source for suitable, really good quality, pre-made foulards?

(Oh, and one last quick additional question: what do you use to polish your Zombie ball to keep it shiny and reflective-looking? Nevr-Dull? MAAS metal polish? Something else?)
Message: Posted by: Kbuck54 (May 20, 2014 04:39PM)
Karnak, Yes, a good quality silk is a must. And yes, they are hard to find without a dragon or butterfly on them. I have three that I got directly from Dirk Losander, they drape just perfect and are the right size and wieght. Your best bet, go to your local fabrick/sewing store and just tell them that you need to look at some differant silk materials (there are a lot) some will need to be doubled or backed with a black silk material, others might just need a hem.
Ask if there is anyone there that could sew this up for you. YOU will be surprised!! Works every time for me. Use your charm and maybe a little magic to get the job done.
Good luck my friend.
Keith Shazam
Message: Posted by: Bill Hegbli (May 20, 2014 05:30PM)
You could go to a fabric store and buy silk, but I prefer crepe material, light, and does not wrinkle. My experience with fabric store silk is, it the correct thickness, but the colors are pale, as they are available for women's clothing. Sew or French hem a thin high quality lining material on the back and you will have a nice foulard. Crepe material come in nice colorful designs as well. There is silk crepe, cotton crepe and mixed blends crepe. Your choice. Make it 30 inches by 30 inches so the ball will be in the middle of the foulard.

Contact General Grant for a great gimmick to use for the Viking Zombies. Note that they do not provide a gimmick, only the ball. Rings and Things 2, still make the original regular gimmick at a reasonable price. Look them up.

I don't know if they are still available, but you can visit ladies dress shops as well. They have large head and accent scarves with vibrant colors and designs that work perfectly as a foulard.

Norm Nielsen, famous for his floating violin uses foulards that match with his costume suites. I have see brown, blue, black, and some other colors he has specially made.

There are varying opinions whether to have a foulard with designs or plain, they are just opinions. Go with what you like. some say to have a border of a different color, and again, it is only their opinion.

To keep a Zombie bright and nice looking, just keep it in a nice cushioned bag. The balls usually have a clear coat on them, and do not need polishing. I did polish a Zombie one with a buffing wheel and rough. Took a long time to polish, but it never dulled if kept in a bag in the house in a trunk. I suppose if you expose it to the elements, hot, cold, rain, snow, it could get the oxidation on it. I have never mistreated my magic props by exposing them to the elements. I do not suggest putting them in a garage, or attic, or a non-temperature controlled storage unit. If they are exposed, a Ziploc bag with all the air removed is best to store for long periods of time. Except, the plastic can melt and crack in extreme conditions.
Message: Posted by: Frank Simpson (May 20, 2014 05:44PM)
Many years ago when I was using my zombie as a feature in [i]The Nutcracker[/i] (I played Uncle Drosselmeyer and the zombie was a magical tree ornament) the choreographer's husband had posession of the ball to rig it to the tree. Without my knowledge (or permission) he polished the ball using a product called Simichrome. Fortunately for him it did a beautiful job and made the ball positively glisten. Since then I've used Simichrome on it about every seven or eight years. It really does not need it often, but I've always been satisfied with the results.
Message: Posted by: karnak (May 20, 2014 07:21PM)
Thanks for all the helpful (and insightful) tips!
Message: Posted by: QuailCreek (May 28, 2014 08:27PM)
I was searching for information on zombie because I wanted to determine which DVDs I wanted to get and which ball to pick up. I have a ball that I bought in a little magic shop in Michigan were I grew up. That was in 1969. It wasn't a big decision I just bought what the old guy, Rommig, sold me. I just went and looked at it and although the ball and the stand are not hallmarked I still have the original box. Ya... I know but I tend to take good care of my props. ;-) Anyway it turns out that it's an original RNT. The box says RNT Zombie-S. Does anyone know what the S stands for? Stainless maybe.

Also Walt, you said earlier in this thread that you suggest getting a gimmick from Jim Sommers via Klamm Magic. I looked but I didn't see the gimmick listed. They have a ball and gimmick for $27. It this the gimmick you're talking about?
Message: Posted by: Wizard of Oz (May 28, 2014 08:39PM)
The S may also be for "small" as I believe RNT made more than one size. But, I also think they made aluminum and stainless, so you may be right. This is only conjecture on my part. I know there are some RNT experts out there.
Message: Posted by: QuailCreek (May 28, 2014 08:49PM)
Thanks Wizard. It's about 4" diameter.
Message: Posted by: Stevethomas (May 28, 2014 08:57PM)
While not truly a zombie, I think the item being sold these days called "The Thing" is an awesome version.

Message: Posted by: Fabian99 (Jun 13, 2014 03:51PM)
The best one is sold by Magic Wladimir great great stuff
Message: Posted by: illusions & reality (Jun 15, 2014 10:04PM)
Hi Tom,

I own several original RNT zombie balls. There is only one size, and they are all aluminum. The "S" stands for silver, as they were available in either gold or silver. I too have my original boxes! :). Hope that helps.

Message: Posted by: QuailCreek (Jun 16, 2014 12:22AM)
Thanks for the information, Lou. I appreciate you filling me in.
Message: Posted by: illusions & reality (Jun 17, 2014 12:38AM)
Glad to help. :)
Message: Posted by: Dougini (Jun 17, 2014 11:49AM)
Welcome to the Café, Fabian! :)

Do you own one, Fabian? I see the 7.87 inch one here for 90Eur...


...and the 5.7 inch one here for 60Eur...


What make this model the "best"? Yes, facts do help a lot.

Message: Posted by: sirbrad (Sep 5, 2014 02:37PM)
I have the 2 piece UDAY one and it is great, looks like a solid metal shiny sphere. Great quality the chrome plating feels and looks like metal on the outside.

Message: Posted by: sirbrad (Sep 5, 2014 02:52PM)
[quote]On Feb 11, 2014, Rick Fisher wrote:
Beg to differ - our 'plastic' zombies look as good if not better than the metal ones - the seam runs vertically so it can't be seen by the audience and I disagree the audience does not know if it is metal or plastic - like any other prop its the way you handle it that 'sells' - not what it is made of. Look at our reviews - we just recently sold our 4,000th unit - guess they must be fooling somebody :) [/quote]

I agree, after 30 years of doing the Zombie people always refer to it as a "shiny metal ball" or "sphere". You can't tell the difference at least not with mine nor do people care. Using a real metal one would be a waste and a lot heavier and more painful to use. :lol: To the one who said they can spot a plastic one far away, so what? YOU are a magician looking for it and also aware of how it all works so that is a moot point. Laymen do not care nor are they trying to make out what material your ball is, that is rubbish. In over 30 years I never had any layman ever say it was plastic they also did not discuss or debate it, they simply said "Metal shiny ball or sphere" and how "awesome" it was.

This is yet another case of magician over-thinking and OCD that only YOU have, whereas the audiences simply sees a "shiny metal ball." I used to obsess over every thing like that as well, but these days I only obsess about what I know matters, and based on my 30 years of experience the material does not matter in this case and is assumed to be metal or aluminum anyway. And honestly even if they knew it was plastic they would not care, it is still floating around and looks very magical so what it is made out of is not that important.

But of course there is always some self-appointed expert on every prop on this forum who thinks theirs is the best, and they are the best using it, and everyone else sucks because they have seen 95% of every zombie routine ever performed. But If that is the case they watch a lot more magic than they perform. :lol: Which explains their deep insecurity.
Message: Posted by: sirbrad (Sep 5, 2014 03:29PM)
[quote]On Feb 12, 2014, Inviso wrote:

Some may not really care how heavy it is supposed to appear and simply enjoy a floating ball.

Randy [/quote]

This is actually the case 99% of the time, or in my case 100% of the time after over 30 years of performing it. No one ever asked me the weight of it. Audiences are perceptive and notice things, but in this case no one seemed to nor would they care. It looks like a solid metal ball floating around. So in this case going bigger, metal, and heavier is not only stupid it is completely unnecessary. The one that I use looks like shiny metal. The theory of "the larger motion covers the smaller one" kinda applies here. People see a ball floating around that is what matters. "It looks like metal, OK even better." So don't run when no one is chasing you.
Message: Posted by: Christopher Moro (Mar 18, 2015 06:44PM)
To touch on the topic of the foulard, I just got a new one sewn for me today. It is a crepe material as Bill described above. I can't recall where I read it, but I believe this is what Tommy Wonder used. I prefer it to the silk look.
Message: Posted by: chmara (Mar 18, 2015 07:33PM)
I am late to the conversation as I have been putting lists of things for sale down below in that forum of late.

I started doing Zombie more years ago than I care to admit -- and have always looked for great ways to float things. BUT I have learned that to zombie any flotation you HAVE TO BE ABLE TO PANTOMIME WITH YIOUR WHOLE BODY>

Yes, there are a great many zombie balls on the market where the magician's needs are not cosidered in weight, finish, hook-up etc. and gimmicks that allow a flash at the end of a routine, boxes to drop the ball into as you ditch, etc.

But, for me -- and it is a shame the manufacturing on the original runs was not well done, the Tommy Wonder Ball with its gimbal and semi attached cloth to be crumpled as empty at the end of the routine was the best CONCEPT I have owned and used. That concept then went to Losander's Tables and I had two of them in use when I was actively performing.

The concept for gimmick shape allows some very deceptive things to happen without moving your arms -- eliminating the need for big body moves to move the object unless the performer wants them to accent the puck or pull of the object.

The Wonder Ball was not cheap -- and had problems creatred by trying to keep costs down -- but, in my opinion, still remains the most deceptive Zombie effect I have ever seen -- followed by Losander's materials at many levels.
Message: Posted by: alan1954 (Jul 21, 2020 03:58PM)
In my experience, the FAB zombies are the best.
Message: Posted by: George Ledo (Jul 25, 2020 11:10PM)
This has been said here mamy times in different contexts, but the prop itself doesn't make any difference. It's what you do with it that either makes an impression on the audience or it doesn't.

Just like with theatre (yeah, yeah, I know... magic is nothing like theatre), you can do a play like Hamlet and knock the audience's socks off or do it and put them to sleep.

It's about you, not about the prop.
Message: Posted by: indomagic (Jul 28, 2020 03:42AM)
In term of the gimmick, I like so much the Tommy wonder one.
Message: Posted by: Dougini (Sep 3, 2020 11:33AM)
I just bought this one:


i'll give a review...

Message: Posted by: Dougini (Sep 15, 2020 05:13PM)
Okay the fine folks at FAB have sent me my Zombie! I heard Rick hurt his back. I hope he's okay!

The first thing I took out of the box was the Gimmick. This is extremely well-made! Not like my rickety home-made one.

Then I took out the ball and looked it over. The seam runs vertical. I cannot see it from 6 feet away! It came with a base unlike any Zombie I've ever seen!

It's made out of brass, and looks gold plated. Three Dragons holding up a ring, and the ball sits in the ring!

It looks like a crystal ball! And 4 in is the perfect size! I'm afraid no one's going to be able to tell me that this looks like it's plastic!

A friend of mine came over and I pointed to it on the Shelf. What's it look like it's made out of? I asked him. He said a metal ball, where did I get it, an ornament?

Perception. I call it the mysterious metal orb. I love that base it's sitting on! It really adds to it!

The cloth. It's a little thick, but that's okay! I like it! Black, and shiny on one side. It is the perfect size!

Have my own bright blue Aztec cloth that I use, but there's nothing wrong with the cloth they give you here!

It is opaque, and you can do the turn around, showing both sides with that! A really good solid black!

I got much more than I expected from this company! I found out that FAB is related to the old Abbott Magic Factory!

I am going to do some more research about that.

Bottom line. You're looking for a good zombie? You don't want to pay over $100? Check these folks!

Message: Posted by: Dave Scribner (Sep 15, 2020 07:07PM)
[quote]I found out that FAB is related to the old Abbott Magic Factory!

I am going to do some more research about that.[/quote]

Doug, Fab is not directly linked to Abbott's but the Abbott family is partnered with them. I remember when Rick first started FAB magic. There was a lot of controversy but Rick has grown FAB into what Abbott's used to be.
Message: Posted by: David Todd (Sep 17, 2020 10:28AM)
[quote]On Sep 15, 2020, Dougini wrote:

Then I took out the ball and looked it over. The seam runs vertical. I cannot see it from 6 feet away! It came with a base unlike any Zombie I've ever seen!

[b]I'm afraid no one's going to be able to tell me that this looks like it's plastic![/b]

A friend of mine came over and I pointed to it on the shelf. "What's it look like it's made out of?" I asked him. He said a metal ball.


Glad to read you're happy with the FAB ball.

I've noticed in the past there has been discussion ad nauseum on the Café about metal balls vs. plastic balls. I doubt anyone is going to change their minds on that point. However, to me the main thing is whether the performer has mastered the floating moves to present this effect , rather than the material the ball is made from. (I would draw the line at using a ball that is obviously made of styrofoam or a large sponge ball. A hard surface styrofoam ball or paper mache ball could be faux finished in such a way as to disguise what they are made from ... but that's another topic.)

In the past I have used a metallic-finish plastic [url=https://www.amazon.com/Christmas-Krebs-Decoration-Commercial-UV-Resistant-Celebration/dp/B0757FQ4MG/]Christmas Tree ornament[/url] and from stage distance I don't think the average person can tell that it's plastic , it looks like a metallic ball. If the performer handles it as if it has some weight and has the floating moves down pat it will be perceived by the audience as a "metal ball". But even if it's a floating plastic ball , who cares ? The [i]floating ball[/i] is the effect, not what the ball is made from. Floating light bulb can be an impressive effect , too , but people know it's a light weight glass bulb. The metal z-balls have a seam , too. But if the seam is minimal (either on a metal ball or plastic ball) it's not visible from a distance.

Raymond Crowe recommends using a plastic ball in his "Naked Zombie Ball" routine. At no point when I'm watching him performing am I thinking: [i]"oh, yuck, it's a cheap looking plastic Christmas Tree ornament."[/i]



I suspect this performer is using a plastic ball:



Message: Posted by: asgar (Jan 4, 2021 01:50AM)
Beautiful performance
Message: Posted by: Dougini (Jan 4, 2021 02:06PM)
Scroll down a bit and look for the Dream Zombie GIANT - $79.95


Message: Posted by: asgar (Jan 6, 2021 07:32AM)
Does the barehand floating (last part) come with the routine or it is david's touch.
Message: Posted by: Dougini (Jan 7, 2021 11:04AM)
That's his touch.
Message: Posted by: magic4545 (Aug 4, 2021 06:23PM)
Zombira, the new silver floating ball, without the cloth

If you can tell my plastic ball from the metal one from the stage, then you're the greatest magician in the world!

https://youtu.be/3FAjYC0nI0w , Zombira starts at the 1:45 mark